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Working with older people

Growing the workforce for older people

Older people are often invisible in conversations about mental health and substance use.

While older people may experience such problems differently to younger adults, their needs are equally as important.

Indeed, the World Health Organization emphasises access to services that can mitigate harm and suffering is a fundamental human right, regardless of people’s age and health status.

Te Pou is working to identify and undertake workforce development activity to grow the workforce for older people who have mental health challenges or use substances problematically.

Read our project report (2019) to the Ministry of Health. This identifies ten workforce development priorities across the five domains of workforce development. Read about useful information and resources for health workers, service managers and leaders and others including Information, research and evaluation, Organisational development and Learning and development.

Inaugural older persons' mental health and addiction leadership day

The inaugural older persons' mental health and addiction leadership day will be held in Wellington on 15 November 2023. The event will focus on priorities for the sector, including central agency strategies, lived experience aspirations, Māori perspectives, ageing and addiction. There will be opportunities for interactive discussion and networking/connections throughout the day.

2022 Older Persons' Symposium report

About 100 people attended a symposium hosted in Auckland in October 2022, including Te Whatu Ora, Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health, non-government organisations, primary care, government departments, academic institutions, and lived experience leaders. Attendees identified priorities and solutions for the older persons’ mental health and addiction sector, across the following areas: equity; continuum of care; data and information; and workforce recruitment, retention and training.

Lived experience aspirations

On September 19 2023, we held a hui to find out what older people need from mental health and addiction services. In our lived experience hui, there were older people with lived experience of mental health issues and problematic substance use, whanau of older people with lived experience and lived experience workers with an interest in older people.

"Older people are worth repairing. Part of my job as an older person is to live my life." -

It turned out to be a very uplifting meeting with stories of the many things people found useful in creating valuable and fulfilling lives even within the turmoil of experiencing mental health issues and problematic substance use. This was a generous, affirming and buoyant experience and we really want to thank all those involved.

Want to find out more? Click on the image below to view and download two handouts which contain key messages from the day.

Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan

This Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan has been developed on behalf of and with input and support from the wider sector by a small group of dementia mate wareware NGOs, the Mate Wareware Advisory Rōpū, clinicians, academics, and providers to drive the changes needed to address this challenge and improve the health, independence, and quality of life of people living with dementia mate wareware in a sustainable way. The changes build on current and potential services and supports.

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